Maddie Press continues to improve climbing skills


Photo courtesy Maddie Press

Sophomore Maddie Press

In an area where sports such as lacrosse and soccer are wildly popular, sophomore Maddie Press instead devotes her time to competitive climbing. From regionals, all the way to nationals, take an inside look into the life of a competitive climber.
Since she was about six years old, Press began competitive climbing. Now on the competition team, she represents her climbing gym at national competitions. “People are always surprised. I often get asked if I compete and have seen Free Solo. And no, most people do not free solo,”​ Press said​.

In order to qualify for Nationals, she first competes in local competitions where climbers are scored on their top ​five​ climbs. After competing at two local competitions, or scoring within the top 20 at a certain competition level, she can qualify for regionals. At regionals, Press competes with climbers from seven other states, where she is ranked on the ​number​ of points she earns from six different climbs. If she makes top​ 10​ at regionals, she then qualifies for divisionals. At day one of divisionals, ranking in the top​ 10​ allows her to participate in the second day of competition. If she ranks within the top six on the second day, she is on the road to Nationals.

At Nationals, the highest competition that Press has competed in, climbers from across the country compete. Although Nationals is ​decidedly a​ high level competition, the highest level of competition is the World’s Championships. Only climbers of a certain age, and those who rank top ​three​ at nationals are put on the national climbing team. “Go to worlds. I don’t think that’s going to happen, some people have been to China, Brazil, Africa – you must be really talented,” Press said.

Some of Press’s goals for climbing include making the second day of Nationals, feeling a noticeable difference in her climbing and feeling stronger when it comes to climbing. In order to reach her goals, Press and her mom have come up with a training plan. The plan includes climbing-specific workouts, cardio for endurance and hang boarding. These workouts help train her fingers, shoulders and triceps, help with flexibility in her hips and shoulders and help strengthen her legs for powerful jumping moves. “It requires a lot more muscle. For the other sports I’ve played I’ve never had to train as much as I do for climbing,” Press said.

For the other sports I’ve played I’ve never had to train as much as I do for climbing”

— Maddie Press

Climbing is not the only sport that Press has been a part of. She played soccer for seven or eight years, did gymnastics for a couple of years and did horseback riding and dance as well. She eventually quit her other sports because they interfered too much with climbing. Press’s current focuses are school and climbing, but she finds that climbing influences the way she sees things. “If I’m bored in English class, I’ll have already figured out ​10​ ways to climb the board,”Press said.

Despite her jam packed schedule, Press devotes her free time to cooking with her mom, being outside, art, helping her dad fix things and building climbing walls at her house. She also enjoys hanging out with her friends, while still taking precautions due to Covid-19. “She is a really kind and caring friend that some people could only wish to have. She is a reliable and honest friend that doesn’t fail to make everyone around her smile,” sophomore Esther Pustylnik said.